Having recently returned from two weeks in Piedmont I am understandably excited about the wines I tasted. Barolo and Barbaresco are of course top of mind, but those two wines don't exactly spring to mind as iconic summer wines now do they? Some lesser known varieties, such as Pelaverga for example, do make perfect summer wines but they turn out to be rather hard sells, and have very limited distribution so what's left to recommend. Well for starters I was super excited by some of the Dolcetto I tasted while in Italy. After years of trying to produce Super-Dolcetto, it looks like many producers took advantage of the recent vintages and returned Dolcetto to its light, fresh, easy drinking roots.
Standouts from my trip included Elio Grasso's uncomplicated yet gulpable 2012 Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi, the 2012 E Pira Dolcetto, full of lively, bright, juicy fruit, the decidedly fruity 2011 Cantina del Pino Dolcetto and the grapey and fresh Cascina dell Rose 2012 Dolcetto.
That's all great. but my question is, will people buy these wines or will they continue to fall back on the wines they are familiar with even when the weather calls for something else? Has Dolcetto become something else in consumer's minds, similar to what has happened with Valpolicella, Beaujolais, and myriad other wines that attempted to trade in their advantage of freshness for power or complexity over the years?
A quick, albeit imperfect, look at Snooth's traffic shows that big red wines continue to be the most searched for red wines on Snooth, though in actuality the top searched for wines are surprisingly dominated by sparking wines: Champagne, Moscato, and Prosecco to be exact. But taking a look at just the reds the top ten searched for wines over the past month include:
Not exactly a line-up of easy drinking wines, even if one keeps in mind the unusually cool temperatures most of us have been enjoying, though in all honesty I do have a bit of a sentimental connection with the Carlo Rossi Paisano! So the question ultimately become, does the market even want lighter reds? I know that many of us ITB types love these wines, and want to see them prosper, but I'm not sure that mindset is in the marketplace. For too many years the wine media has promoted bigger, blacker, richer, and bolder as better and now we have to pay the price for that misguided advice.
Of course there are people out there who trust their own palate, and appreciate the beauty of delicacy, freshness ,and the approachability of low alcohol, low tannin wines, particularly amongst the younger generations who seem, for the moment, to be disregarding the advice of the old wine media guard, but do we have enough time to save those wines?
I've posed lots of questions here, and am interested in your experiences with this style of wine. Going into the summer, finally, it seems almost like a make or break moment for deliciously fresh wines. How sad it would be to be in a world where Malbec, Cabernet, and other bold reds are somehow deemed appropriate for the summer months. Perhaps I'm just an old curmudgeon, but I just can't understand how a lightly chilled glass of Artemis is going to make my life on the patio this summer more enjoyable.
So what are your favorite red wines for summer and what's selling where you are?